A quick and easy side dish for fall, these baked sweet potatoes are coated in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and served with a dollop of butter.

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Side view of two baked sweet potatoes on a plate lined with parchment paper, topped with butter and fresh chopped herbs.

About Baked Sweet Potatoes

Perfect for any fall or holiday dinner, baked sweet potatoes are a quick, easy, and healthier side dish for all your favorite meals.

What’s in baked sweet potatoes?

  • Sweet potatoes – The star of the show! When buying sweet potatoes, check the skin. Avoid any that have soft spots, wrinkles, or cracks. Also try to get sweet potatoes that are similar in size so that they’ll bake at the same pace.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – Used for coating the outside of the potatoes to help crisp the skin.
  • Salt, pepper, and butter – Easy, classic seasonings and flavor.

Sweet potatoes vs yams

Although sometimes used interchangeably, there are quite a few differences between sweet potatoes and true yams that can impact your cooking. And notice I said “true yams”, as many American grocery stores add to the confusion by labeling some sweet potatoes “yams” despite the fact that true yams are nothing like sweet potatoes at all.

Confused? You and me both!

In short, this is the Cliff Notes version of what’s going on with these potatoes and how to tell them apart:

  • True yams – These are more like a russet sweet potato. They have white flesh with brown scaly skin and a dry, starchy taste. They’re typically grown outside of the United States, making them difficult to find in American grocery stores.
  • Sweet potatoes – A firm sweet potato with golden skin and light or purple flesh. This is the type of sweet potato that was originally grown in the United States.
  • Sweet potatoes that grocery stores call yams – A soft sweet potato with copper skin and golden flesh. Odds are, this is the type of sweet potato you see most often, simply because the soft texture works so well with many of the sweet potato dishes Americans traditionally make. And as for why they’re called yams, it comes down to marketing. The softer sweet potato was the second type of potato grown in the United States, and grocery stores wanted to differentiate this somehow to their customers… and instead of simply calling them firm or soft, they decided to call them yams – a type of potato they are nothing like, but since the “true” form is not commonly sold in the US, the name was seen as “available.”

There are other differences (nutritional value, various names, etc) but the above three points are the ones you need to consider when making substitutions in your cooking.

Given the above, a sweet potato (or a vegetable that looks like a sweet potato but has been labeled a yam) would be a better fit for dishes that use ingredients like brown sugar or maple syrup, while either true yams or sweet potatoes can be used for more savory dishes. The only real difference is that true yams may have a flavor and consistency closer to a white potato than a sweet potato.

So, in conclusion: In most cases, true yams can be substituted for sweet potatoes in savory dishes, but the taste and flavor may remind you more of white potatoes than sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes (and vegetables that look like sweet potatoes but have been labeled yams) are still preferred.

Can you adjust the cooking temperature?

Sweet potatoes are an amazing side dish for fall, but this time of year is also notorious for occasions with big meals that can put a strain on your limited oven space. Thankfully, sweet potatoes are pretty forgiving regarding cook times and temperatures, so you can adjust this to potentially bake multiple items together.

Use the following as a guide for adjusting preparation times as needed:

  • Bake @ 425 degrees F for 60 minutes (as written in the recipe).
  • Bake @ 400 degrees F for 60-75 minutes.
  • Bake @ 375 degrees F for 75-90 minutes.

Can you bake sweet potatoes in the microwave?

Certainly!

Prepare the sweet potatoes as instructed in the recipe (scrub, dry, poke with a fork four to five times, etc) but skip adding the olive oil. The skin will not crisp in the microwave, so feel free to save the extra calories for garnishing the inside of the potato. But you can still season the outside with salt and pepper.

Place potatoes on a microwave-safe plate and heat for five minutes, turning halfway through. Pierce the potatoes with a fork; if they’re not tender enough that the fork slides through easily, continue to microwave at 30-second intervals until the desired doneness is reached.

Top down view of two sweet potatoes topped with butter, showing off the soft flesh of the potaotes.

Can you make this in advance?

You can prep the sweet potatoes ahead of time (scrubbing, drying, piercing, oiling, etc) but for the best taste and presentation, I would not recommend baking them in advance. Hold off on baking until you’re ready to serve.

How long are baked sweet potatoes good for?

Once baked and cooled, prepare the sweet potatoes for storage. I recommend either mashing them or scooping out the sweet potato flesh and discarding the skin.

Store sweet potatoes in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three to five days.

Sweet potatoes can be reheated in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or warmed up in the microwave.

Can you freeze baked sweet potatoes?

Yes, you totally can!

Once baked and cooled, prepare the sweet potatoes for storage. I recommend either mashing them or scooping out the sweet potato flesh and discarding the skin.

Store sweet potatoes in a sealed container or freezer bag for up to three months.

When ready to eat, let sweet potatoes thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Sweet potatoes can be reheated in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or warmed up in the microwave.

Notes & tips for baked sweet potatoes

  • Before baking, be sure to scrub and dry the sweet potatoes (even if you don’t plan on eating the skin.)
  • Olive oil is used to help crisp the skin. If you don’t eat the skin, you can skip the olive oil (as well as seasoning the outside of the potato) if you’d like.
  • There’s no need to wrap the sweet potatoes in foil; they’ll bake perfectly uncovered on the baking sheet.

More delicious side dishes

How to make baked sweet potatoes

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – Scrub and dry the sweet potatoes, then place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Use a fork to poke each potato four or five times.

Step 2 – Rub the sweet potatoes and season the skins with salt and pepper.

Step 3 – Bake!

Step 4 – Allow sweet potatoes to rest for five minutes, then cut them down the middle. Season them again with salt and pepper and add a dab of butter.

Step 5 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Side view of two baked sweet potatoes on a plate lined with parchment paper, topped with butter and fresh chopped herbs.
5 from 1 vote

Baked Sweet Potatoes

10 mins prep + 1 hr cook
417 kcal
Yields: 3 sweet potatoes
A quick and easy side dish for fall, these baked sweet potatoes are coated in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and served with a dollop of butter.

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet. Using a fork, pierce skin 4-5 times for each potato.
    3 large sweet potatoes
  • Rub sweet potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 pinch salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Bake sweet potatoes for 30 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip potatoes and bake for another 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft all the way through.
  • Remove baking sheet from oven and allow sweet potatoes to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Cut sweet potatoes down the middle and top with butter and salt and pepper, to taste (all optional).
    salted butter
  • Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sweet potato | Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 200mg | Potassium: 1150mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 48238IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 2mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy